Bradford DoolittleESPN Staff WriterClose
- Sports reporter, Kansas City Star, 2002-09
- Writer, Baseball, Baseball Prospectus
- Co-author, Pro Basketball Prospectus
- Member, Baseball Writers Association of America
- Member, Professional Basketball Writers Association
The membership of the Hall of Fame grew to 329 on Tuesday with the announcement that unanimous selection Mariano Rivera, Edgar Martinez, Roy Halladay and Mike Mussina were named on at least 75 percent of BBWAA ballots submitted in this year’s election process. They join veterans committee selections Lee Smith and Harold Baines, giving us our second consecutive six-man class, which will be inducted at the Clark Sports Center in Cooperstown, New York, in July.
No matter what your particular beef may be with the Hall, the writers, the process or the players up for election, Tuesday was a happy day. Four worthy candidates were added to baseball’s most exclusive club, candidates representing three countries. Or four, if you include all those proud Canadians who rooted for Halladay during his salad days in Toronto. For them and the rest of is, Halladay’s election is bittersweet because of his tragically early death in November 2017 at the age of 40.
While the focus should be on those who made it, not everything we learned on Tuesday was good news for everyone. Nor was the all good news simply about the quartet that got over the vote threshold. Every Hall announcement carries with it ramifications for baseball history as a whole, and for those who will appear on the ballot in the years to come.
With that in mind, let’s sort through the winners and losers from Tuesday’s news.
LOSERS: All of us.
Mostly this is because of Halladay, one of the most admired pitchers of his time. He was a true throwback, the last of the ace pitchers who not only gave lip service to the idea of completing games, but backed it up with his performance on the mound. He won a Cy Young Award in both leagues. He threw a no-hitter in the postseason. Only Warren Spahn had more seasons of owning at least a share of the highest complete games total in his league. Halladay did it seven times to Spahn’s nine. Halladay is perhaps the last pitcher whose résumé will include anything about complete games as a bullet point.
We all lose out because Halladay will not be around to participate in induction weekend, and won’t speak to the thousands gathered on the lawn behind the Clark Sports Complex. But it will be a time to remember him and what he meant to those close to him, and those of us who weren’t close but were so enamored of what he could do on the mound. It will be the very definition of bittersweet.